Iodine is one of the essential trace elements that has to consumed in form of food or supplements, since your body can not produce it himself. Iodine is vital to the body and the highest amounts of this trace element can be found in the thyroid gland. Minor amounts can be found in other body tissues such as muscles, pituitary glands, salivary glands and eyes. The thyroid gland needs iodine for the production of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, growth and development of your body. They are also needed for building muscles and bones, energy metabolism, heart function, circulation, nervous system function, as well as brain development.
In infants and children, the thyroid hormones promote growth and development. In addition, T3 and T4 regulate body temperature and energy expenditure, support the immune function, improve mental and physical performance, improve overall mood, and even participate in the regulation of digestion
In Germany, iodine occurs in agricultural soil only in very small quantities and therefore plants that are growing in this soil only contain very small quantities of iodine. Worldwide nearly 2 billion people suffer from a more or less pronounced iodine deficiency that can result in numerous health problems and can also severely impair overall well-being. In Germany, over 50% of the population suffer from a mild to severe iodine deficiency. Due to its high iodine demand, the thyroid gland reacts particularly sensitively to an iodine deficiency. Unfortunately an iodine deficiency is characterized by nonspecific symptoms in its early stages. Such a deficiency often develops slowly and undetected, and may have already caused permanent damage, when it finally becomes apparent. The most obvious symptom of an iodine deficiency is an enlargement of the thyroid gland that can lead to the formation of a goitre. Since a chronic iodine deficiency leads to a reduction in thyroid hormone production, the body tries to compensate for this by a growth of the tissue responsible for thyroid hormone production.
A serious iodine deficiency can affect numerous metabolic processes and can bring the entire organism out of balance. An iodine deficiency results in a reduced production of thyroid hormones, which can lead to serious metabolic disorders and developmental disorders in children. The first nonspecific symptoms of an iodine deficiency include fatigue and lack of drive, concentration disturbances, increased sleep requirements, cold sensitivity, dry skin with a pale and unhealthy appearance, swollen eyes and hoarseness. An iodine deficiency can even lead to an increased risk of thyroid cancer as growth of thyroid tissue can lead to degenerative, malignant changes if there is a lack of iodine. Since iodine is also absorbed by the mammary glands and used for the formation of iodlactone, which regulates the growth of mammary glands and an iodine deficiency can encourage the growth of altered breast gland cells in animals, an iodine deficiency is under suspicion to promote the development of breast cancer. In contrast, it has been demonstrated that iodine can inhibit the growth of human breast cancer cells and can kill these cells in cell cultures. Statistical studies show that women who consume enough iodine have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
There are different populations who have an increased risk of an iodine deficiency due to an increased iodine requirement or a lack of iodine in their diet. These populations also include vegetarians and vegans. Since iodine is primarily found in meat and fish, and in smaller quantities also in dairy products, vegetarians can only use dairy products and iodine salt, to cover their iodine demand. Vegans will have even bigger problems covering their iodine demand, since iodine is only found in negligible amounts in vegetable foods. In addition to this, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds contain so-called goitrogens, which inhibit iodine uptake by the thyroid gland and can aggravate an existing iodine deficiency. Other factors that affect the uptake of iodine in the digestive tract and the transport of iodine into the thyroid include nitrates that are contained in drinking water and plant foods such as spinach, beetroot and some root vegetable varieties.
Since the demand for iodine increases during periods of hormonal changes, puberty adolescents have an increased demand for iodine.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the iodine demand increases significantly because the developing foetus or the child to be breastfeed also need iodine for their physical and mental development, and this demand must be covered by the nutrient supply of the mother. An iodine deficiency can lead to mental and physical development disorders in children. The tricky part is that in case of an insufficient supply of iodine the thyroid hormone production of the mother can still be sufficient, while the unborn foetus may already have too few thyroid hormones for a correct development of brain and nervous system. Even a slight iodine deficiency during pregnancy can lead to a statistically lower intelligence rate of the child. In addition, an iodine deficiency increases the risk of a miscarriage.
After birth, the iodine requirement of breast-feeding women is further increased, because the child is fed exclusively by mother’s milk during breastfeeding. Since the intake of synthetic estrogens increases the levels of thyroxine-binding globulin in the bloodstream, which binds thyroid hormones and promotes a faster breakdown of thyroid hormones, women who take hormonal contraceptives also have an increased iodine requirement because their body needs to produce larger amounts of thyroid hormones. Smokers have an increased iodine requirement, since tobacco smoke contains thiocyanate, which inhibits the transport of iodine to the thyroid gland. As sports stimulate the metabolism and increase the calorie requirement, while at the same time building muscle mass, athletes need higher amounts of thyroid hormones, which also results in an increased iodine requirement.
Too much iodine can be as negative as an iodine deficiency. The WHO considers a daily intake of iodine of up to 1000 μg per day as safe, but there are also populations that should not supplement iodine due to existing diseases or a predisposition for certain diseases. Symptoms of an over-supply of the body with iodine are as nonspecific as initial symptoms of an iodine deficiency and include, among other things, nervousness, weight loss, increased sweating, muscle weakness, female cycle and fertility disorders, extrasystoles, tremors, hair loss, insomnia and osteoporosis.
People suffering from autoimmune diseases of the thyroid gland such as Hashimoto or Basedow's disease, or having a predisposition for these diseases, should not supplement iodine and should generally avoid a high intake of iodine as an excess of iodine can trigger these diseases in case of an existing predisposition and worsen an already existing diseases of this type. This risk should not be neglected since about 10 percent of the population suffer from Hashimoto or have a predisposition for this disease.
Even people suffering from an overactive thyroid gland should not supplement iodine, since too much iodine can further aggravate an existing thyroid hyperfunction
Recommended daily intake: take 1 capsule without chewing and with sufficient liquid